This week’s post is all about you.
A few months ago I wrote about the power of names. To sum that post up (but, seriously, go read it): our names are the representative of the idea of us that lives inside the minds of others, and we do not give proper weight to that. In the Bible when God or Jesus gave someone a new name it was to clear that slate; to give them a new starting point so they might formulate a new idea in the minds of others, one free of the burdens of past knowledge.
Yesterday on the Word with friends I talked about names again, but this time not about people’s names, but about the names we assign to groups of people, and how that practice is detrimental to our purpose as humans because it dehumanizes others, it creates an “us” and “them” mentality that is incredibly damaging and dangerous.
Today I am going to delve deeper into what sits behind both of these topics: you. Your value, your habits, your blinders.
In 1995 author Corinne Edwards slightly misquoted an older author named Gerald Jampolsky and created an incredibly powerful new idea from what she thought Jampolsky’s words were:
“Forgiveness is giving up all hope for a better past.”
The quote has been wrongly credited to a variety of celebrities since then, but its truth is undeniable: it is only when we accept what happened and release the need to change it that we can truly forgive.
But here’s an interesting thing about God: He absolutely gives you a better past. The foundational moment in any believer’s life is the moment they become aware of who they are, who God is, and their relation to Him. It is a perspective-shifting moment in which the entire context you have held for your life disintegrates and the real context shines forth. Maybe you aren’t a believer and so that sounds weird, so please let me explain.
If you look back at your past I am sure you are quick to do two things: 1) see all the spots where you screwed up, where you felt hurt or rejected or humiliated, and 2) see the happy moments, the touching moments, the times when you were up. But you will also then realize a third thing: the good times are rare and minor when compared to the bad.
This is because your amygdala stores the strongest things more clearly, and because pain and failure are more pronounced than laughter or success you store the bad at double, or more, the rate of good. In other words: the bad doesn’t have to be that bad to make the grade, but the good has to be REALLY good.
God’s first goal in your life is to reset your context to see that this imbalance is not true. The truth is that we have FAR more good days than bad, but we have allowed our amygdala to color our context and we have blindly assumed a rough past. When He touches your heart and you realize you are not the center of the universe you immediately gain the clarity that everything you have been through was defining who you would be, what flavor of fruit your tree produces.
Get The Party Started
I have said this before, but it bears repeating: there is a purpose in this life that is yours and yours alone. We tend to fall into this Industrial Age thinking that jobs are a thing we get assigned and hate, and that the goal is to perfect our emulation of that role. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Your purpose in life is not some miserable assignment that’s shoved off on you; the reason you are here is to be the most you that you can be, to enrich the rest of us with your specific views and beliefs and actions.
So much of religion has been built around suppressing you, about restricting you to someone else’s definition of what your life should be; it’s an attempt to force God’s behavior into the Industrial mold. It won’t service; He is bigger than that, He made YOU bigger than that.
Chris Pratt stood on a stage and pointed out that we are not perfect, but that we were designed with our imperfections. He is both correct and incorrect: the words for “perfect” in the Biblical context are primarily tamim, תָּמִים, or kalil, כָּלִיל, in the Old Testament and katartizo, καταρτίζω, or teleios, τέλειος, in the New Testament. All of these words (as well as the half-dozen others used between Greek and Hebrew) center around not the idea of flawlessness, but the idea of completeness.
Can you catch that distinction? You are not perfect because you don’t fail or because you are without spot or blemish, but because you are the you-iest you that you can be. Every moment of your life, every road you’ve gone down, every heartache and tear, every angry outburst, and every laugh or compliment defines you. All of that has shaped who you are. Don’t dare let someone convince you to cast that off or to ignore or reject it.
You do not need to memorialize the past, but neither do you need to deny it. The mistakes of your past are not excrement to be covered with sand and denied. They are the lessons that you learned from, grew from. It is those things that make you complete, that make you whole. And to let someone stamp that out of you in order to make you conform to their cookie cutter is wrong.
Seven Nation Army
So here’s my practical, here’s my thing for you to carry into the weekend with you — and I will talk more about this in Flashback Friday tomorrow — be you. If you don’t know who that is, take some time to ponder it. Don’t try to redefine it; start with just knowing and understanding it. Ask yourself what the idea behind your name means to others. Ask yourself what it means to you.
Once you have some kind of an answer there, ask then why that would be. Ask yourself what you believe your purpose is here. Then, and this is the most important, decide one thing you can do to serve that purpose right here and right now.
I don’t know who you think you are. I may not even know you or who I think you are. But I can promise you one thing: if you can figure out who you are and what your purpose is and take one step in that direction, you will have changed the world. If we can all do it? We will bring enormous and universal change. What better goal can there be?
Father, I pray that this message finds its target among the cries for homogeny and the “curse” of diversity. I see these people, I see these hearts, and I know that whatever we have named ourselves and each other You have a name for each of us that is free of those biases and corruptions, a name clean and ready for us to forge a definition for. Help us to find those names, help us to see our ready-rooms in the Kingdom, help us to reject the false doctrine of sameness.
All these things I pray in the powerful name of my Brother, my Savior, my King, and Your Son, Your Word, and Your Anointed Christ. Amen.